With Valentine’s Day nearing, you may be thinking about how to make someone in your life feel loved. While you decorate with your kids or fill out cards to send your sibling or pick out a gift for your partner, I hope you’ll add one more person to that “TO CELEBRATE” list:: you.
Each Monday this month, we’re going to look at some ways to improve the most important relationship in your life—the one you have with yourself. Today, we are getting started with some foundation work.
Understand self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is your decision to not have an adversarial relationship with yourself. It is deciding to interact with yourself not from judgment but from a position of, at least neutrality, and, ideally, support. If you do something that maybe doesn’t turn out the way that you had hoped, the first place you go to in your mind if you are operating from a place of self-acceptance isn’t one of criticism but one of celebration for trying and then of reflection to gather insight. You think, “what can I learn from this”; not “I am so dumb!”
When we start operating from a place of self-acceptance, we become empowered. The irony is that when we have a more negative view of ourselves, it becomes a self-defeating prophesy, we are less successful and happy because we don’t believe that we can be successful or deserve to be happy. When we shift our mindset to self-acceptance, we become more empowered because we have a greater belief in our abilities and we lose the paralysis over what happens if it doesn’t work out. Here is the reality: if something that you do doesn’t work out the way that you thought it would, nothing about you changes. You gain information about that thing and maybe even how you should approach things like that. But who YOU are? Still just as valuable, important, and worthy.
Decide. The first step in your self-acceptance journey is making the decision to have a healthier relationship with yourself. “I have decided to have a healthier relationship with myself” is one of the most powerful mindsets you can embrace because it means you are ready to notice what you are doing that is not healthy and call yourself on it. In order to really claim that you are going to make a shift, I encourage people to sit down and first start by writing that statement at the top- I have decided to have a healthier relationship with myself. Now, reflect on what practicing self-acceptance will provide for you—because that is where the motivation comes from, from realizing that a different way of relating to yourself might really have some incredible things to offer you.
Here are some questions you can answer:
If I were more self-accepting, I would…
Self-acceptance is an opportunity to…
When I think about being more self-accepting, I am most excited about…
I want to be more self-accepting because…
Break up with your frenemy. So many of us have that internal voice in our head that provides a running commentary on everything we are doing wrong. And that voice really does become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we cling to that voice because of fear, because of a lack of confidence, because we think it will eventually motivating. But if you take an honest look at the situation, the voice is not serving you. It has done nothing to help you so far. Why do you think it will start now?
Letting that critical voice go takes practice. When the voice says its awful thing, I want you to respond, “I am not talking that way to myself anymore” and then counter it with a positive thought.
Breaking up with this voice means not just breaking up with it when it’s in your head but also stopping those things you say out loud like, “Do I look fat in this?”, “I need to lose 10 pounds” or sitting down with your girlfriends and picking everything apart. You have to stop all of the critical conversations that are going on in your life from the ones in your head to the words you speak. Negativity never serves us.
Pay attention to how your body feels not looks. Sometimes people wonder if practicing self-acceptance is a free pass to not take care of yourself and that’s not it at all. Your body is your vehicle for this life. It is what allows you to experience joy and love and every good thing you have had in your life. Moreover, you have a gift that you are meant to give this world and though it has nothing to do with how your body looks, your body is what will allow you to deliver that gift to the world in some way. So you have to take care of it—by giving it the water, movement, sleep, self-care, stress relief, and nutrients it needs. Practice healthy self-care not because it might change the way your body looks but because it allows your body to serve you better.
Ignite yourself. Now that you have really diminished your self-criticism and are embracing some well rounded self-care, it is time to start thinking about what you are passionate about and how to be on purpose because the reality is that you won’t have time to be consumed with your body when you are consumed with what you want to offer the world. So, if you already have a passion, really immerse yourself in it and figure out if there is a way you are meant to offer it to the world. If you don’t, begin to look for one. Ask friends if you can join them as they do something they love. Recall what you loved at other points in your life and reengage in those passions. Pay attention to find the activities where time slips away and create an emphasis on that in your life.
Want even more support for your journey? Seal Press is offering the e-book version of Beautiful You for $2.99 until 2/6 (along with 4 other great books). This daily practice will open your heart to yourself.